Long Insurance Services of Kernersville, NC


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All posts by Monte Long

Medicare Supplement Insurance

Is a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan Worth It?

Medicare Supplement InsuranceWhen you sign up for Medicare Parts A and B, you also have the option to apply for a Medicare Supplement insurance plan.

Medicare Supplement plan, sometimes called “Medigap,” is a private insurance policy that can help pay for some of the health care costs that Medicare doesn’t cover. But is this coverage really necessary? And more importantly — is it worth it?

WHY CHOOSE A MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT PLAN?

To answer those questions, it may help to understand why you’d want to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan in the first place. Here are some important reasons:

  • It helps pay the portion of approved expenses not covered by Medicare. This can include out-of-pocket expenses such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles.
  • There are a variety of plans to meet your needs. Erie Family Life offers four supplemental insurance plans designed to fit your life and your budget.
  • With no network, you can choose any doctor or hospital that accepts Original Medicare.
  • Coverage is guaranteed to renew each year (unless you make untrue statements, commit fraud, or fail to pay premiums).

IS IT WORTH IT?

As with any insurance policy, the answer to whether the cost is “worth it” will largely depend on your personal financial situation.

But health care and out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare participants are on the rise. If you’re concerned about your ability to pay unforeseen health care costs, you’ll probably find that the peace of mind a Medicare Supplement plan can provide is worth the cost.

And if you’re already an ERIE customer, you may be eligible to get lower premiums with discounts, including:

  • Household Discount: Available if someone else in your home has an ERIE Medicare Supplement plan. The availability and amount of this discount  varies from state to state. Ask your agent for details.
  • Multi-policy Discount: Available when the Medicare Supplement plan covers an ERIE auto, home or life policyholder. Not available in all states.

TALK TO AN ERIE AGENT

When it comes to reviewing and choosing a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, the decisions can be daunting. But you don’t need to be an expert because we’re here to help. Contact your ERIE agent or find an agent in your neighborhood for your free Medicare Supplement guide.

Erie Family Life and our agents can help you select the best supplemental plan for your life and your budget. And we’ll be here when you need us, ready to answer your questions. That’s our promise of service.

ERIE® Medicare Supplement insurance products and services are provided by Erie Family Life Insurance Company.  Go to erieinsurance.com for company licensure information.

The policy has exclusions, limitations and terms under which the policy may be continued in force or discontinued. For costs and complete details of the coverage, contact your ERIE agent or refer to the government guide Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People With Medicare.

Eligibility for insurance coverage will be determined at the time of application based on applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

ERIE Medicare Supplement insurance is not available in the District of Columbia, New York and Wisconsin.  Life insurance not available in New York.

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Anti-Discrimination Laws

7 Anti-Discrimination Laws Business Owners Should Know

Anti-Discrimination LawsFair and equal treatment isn’t just the right thing to do… it’s often the law.

Whether you’re hiring for a new position, planning a promotion or letting an employee go, it’s important to be aware of anti-discrimination laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Why? Because if you’re accused of discrimination or harassment, you could potentially face a long and costly legal battle to resolve it.

These laws also protect your employees from any retaliation if they report a situation where they experienced or witnessed discrimination.

Related: 5 Reasons Employees Might Sue (And How To Keep Your Workplace Fair to Prevent It)

As a business owner, it’s important to understand the laws that could lead to a discrimination claim. Need a refresher? Here’s a quick overview of protected classifications at the federal level. (Note: This is not legal advice – for specific guidance pertaining to your business, always consult a licensed lawyer with small business expertise.)

  1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII): This established that employers can’t discriminate against people because of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The law also requires employers to reasonably accommodate applicants’ and employees’ sincerely held religious practices.
  2. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act: This law amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.
  3. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA): This law prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of sex and makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women if they perform equal work in the same workplace.
  4. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA): This law protects people who are 40 or older from discrimination on the basis  of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment.
  5. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA): This law makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector and in state and local governments. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.
  6. Sections 102 and 103 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991: Among other things, this law amends Title VII and the ADA to permit jury trials and compensatory and punitive damage awards in intentional discrimination cases.
  7. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA): This law makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information. Genetic information includes information about an individual’s genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual’s family members, as well as information about any disease, disorder or condition of an individual’s family members (i.e. an individual’s family medical history).

These laws also make it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Remember: Local or state laws might get more specific than these federal laws. Be sure to familiarize yourself with any laws unique to your area, and consult a lawyer for specific legal advice pertaining to your business.

EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES LIABILITY COVERAGE CAN HELP

Even if you do everything you can to be proactive and fair in your business, you still could be faced with a lawsuit accusing you of discrimination. Even if the accusations aren’t true, a lawsuit could leave you stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills.

Good news: There’s time to think ahead and protect yourself.

Talk to your local ERIE agent about adding Employment Practices Liability (EPL) coverage* to your business insurance policy. This coverage may help you in the instance someone brings a lawsuit against your business for wrongful acts, such as discrimination.

Learn more about what’s included in EPL coverage or talk to your local ERIE agent for a customized quote.

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Fact or Fiction? Debunking Deer Collisions

Debunking Deer Collisions – Fact or Fiction

Watching deer in their natural habitat can be an enjoyable, peaceful experience. But encountering one on a roadway? That’s a different story.

If it’s happened to you… you’re not alone. More than 1.5 million drivers are involved in deer collisions each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, causing nearly $1 billion in vehicle damage. (Learn how auto insurance can help you if you hit a deer.)

We’ve already shared tips on how toavoid hitting a deer if one jumps in front of your car. But what about those common bits of folklore that everyone seems to have heard about deer collisions? Is there any truth to those?

Below are six common myths you may have heard… along with some facts to back them up.

  • Myth: Deer are more active at sunrise and sunset.Status: True. While deer can—and do—cross the road at all hours of the day, dusk and dawn are their peak hours of activity. Deer are “crepuscular” animals. That’s a fancy way of saying they move the most during twilight. So if you’re driving as the sun is rising or coming home from work at dusk… be especially careful.
  • Myth: You’re more likely to hit a deer in the fall. Status: True. Nearly half of all deer/vehicle collisions happen between October and December. Not coincidentally, deer mating season and peak hunting days also fall between these months. As deer are running from hunters or looking for a mate… odds are they’ll cross a road somewhere in between.Related:Top 4 Fall Driving Hazards (And How to Handle Them)
  • Myth: Deer whistles can prevent collisions.Status: False. Deer whistles attach to your vehicle and are said to emit a frequency that alerts deer of your presence and send them running away. Despite anecdotal evidence – we all probably know someone who swears by their deer whistle! – no credible study has proven them to be effective. One research study at the University of Georgia found that no matter how loud or high-pitched the whistle, the sound isn’t enough to alter the deer’s behavior. Tried-and-tested technology like crash avoidance features might give you more (or… less?) bang for your buck.
  • Myth: Hitting a deer isn’t that dangerous.Status: False.  Nobody wants to face the repair costs of a deer collision. But in many instances, these crashes cause more than just inconvenience. In 2016, the IIHS recorded 189 deaths from collisions with animals. It’s important to note that the most serious injuries occur when a vehicle leaves the roadway—so know when to swerve, and when to stay in your lane.Related:When is a car considered totaled… and what happens when it is?
  • Myth: More deer are present at “deer crossing” signs.Status: True. If you encounter a deer crossing sign, it’s there for a reason.  Signs are installed in areas with high deer populations and a history of deer collisions. Additional factors that can lead to crashes, such as road conditions and visibility, also inform where deer crossing signs are placed. (And before anyone asks: The signs, of course, are for people to read… not the deer.)
  • Myth: If I hit a deer, I can take home the meat.Status: It depends. If you have a taste for venison, you may be tempted to make the best of an unfortunate situation by taking the unlucky animal home with you. But first, check with the authorities – it’s usually the body that regulates hunting in your state, such as the Game Commission or the Fish and Wildlife Division. (Here’s a helpful list, organized by state.) In some states you’re free to take the animal, but not before filing a police report or applying for a special permit or tag. In other states, it’s downright illegal.

Does my auto insurance cover hitting a deer?

Deer-vehicle collisions are covered under the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance, which is an optional coverage you can choose to add on. (Learn more about understanding your auto policy.) An insurance professional like a local Erie Insurance agent can help you customize an auto insurance package that fits your needs and budget.

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Life Insurance FAQs

Weird Life Insurance Questions

Life insurance, by its very nature, is deeply personal. It transforms the vulnerable into the secure.

It can also leave you wondering – how does that all work, anyway?

Keep reading for answers to a few curious questions you’ve probably wondered about life insurance… but were too afraid to ask.

Q: I HAVE A DANGEROUS HOBBY. CAN I STILL GET LIFE INSURANCE?

A: In many cases, yes – but expect to answer some questions and (probably) pay a little extra to account for the additional risk.

Before giving you a quote, your local insurance agent may ask you to fill out a written questionnaire to understand more about your hobby.  At ERIE, that includes hobbies such as:

  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicle racing (stock cars, drag racing, motorcycles, etc.)
  • Aviation
  • Sky diving
  • Scuba diving

The questionnaire will ask you some basic information to understand your hobby. This could include:

  • How long you’ve been doing this hobby
  • How frequently you participate
  • Any training, education or certifications you’ve received
  • If you ever get paid or hired for your hobby (as opposed to just doing it for fun)
  • Future goals or plans for your hobby

It’s important to be honest when filling out your questionnaire. If you fudge the details in an attempt to seem less risky… that could be grounds for denying a claim later on. Your completed questionnaire is sent to the life insurance underwriter, who determines the scope of the risk – and ultimately helps calculate the rate you’ll pay.

For example: Let’s say you’re into rock climbing. Does that mean you climb indoors with friends once in a while at the local gym? Or are you planning a trip to the Himalayas to go ice climbing alone? Similarly, if you have a private pilot license – are you taking occasional short trips for business? Or are you regularly stunt flying in air shows on the weekends?

You get the idea… it’s all about calculating that risk.

Q: IF I QUIT SMOKING, CAN I GET RE-RATED TO SAVE MONEY ON LIFE INSURANCE?

A: First things first: Good for you!

As for your life insurance: Generally speaking, yes – you can ask your local agent to get your existing policy re-rated.  Before you do, though, you’ll likely have to show some stability in those lifestyle changes for a year or two to prove that you’re in this for the long haul.

What happens next may differ, depending on the circumstances. (Your agent can explain the specifics as they pertain to you.)

If you quit smoking because you’re just ready to live a healthier lifestyle – great! With no complications, you could get bumped from the “smoker “to the “nonsmoker” rate classification (and likely save some money in the process).

But, if you quit for a medical reason – such as a diagnosis of COPD or lung cancer – that’s a health concern that could impact the cost savings you’d otherwise see from quitting smoking. Your agent will ask you to fill out a questionnaire to get the specifics on why and how you quit.

Q: WHAT IF I LOSE 50 POUNDS? COULD I GET RE-RATED THEN?

Similar to the smoking example above, expect some follow-up questions about your weight loss. For example: “How and why did you lose the weight?” There are risks that come with weight loss surgeries, such as gastric bypass or lap band surgeries. Similarly, if you dropped a bunch of weight without even trying to… that could be the sign of a worrisome chronic illness or depression. If you start or stop taking certain medications because of your weight loss, that could also affect your rate.

If your weight loss is the product of good ol’ fashioned discipline, diet and exercise: Once you show you can keep it off (and provide any necessary test results and information), you could get bumped to a more favorable rate class.

Remember, insurance rates are all about data and probability. When it comes to weight loss, most carriers will add at least 50% of the weight back when they calculate your new rate. Why? Statistically speaking, if you drop a bunch of weight, studies show you’re likely to gain at least some of it back.

Ask your ERIE agent about re-rating your policy if or when your circumstances change.

TALK TO A LOCAL ERIE AGENT FOR A LIFE INSURANCE QUOTE

Have a weird or embarrassing insurance question? Don’t be shy: Our local agents are licensed professionals – they’re not here to judge.

Find a local ERIE agent near you to get the conversation started, or request a life insurance quote online.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LIFE INSURANCE

Read about ERIE’s life insurance offerings or check out these related blog posts:

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Auto Deductible

How to Choose an Auto Deductible

Auto DeductibleThere are many choices you need to make when it comes to choosing the right auto insurance. When it comes to customizing your policy, one of the biggest decisions is what deductible amount you will choose.

WHAT IS A DEDUCTIBLE IN AUTO INSURANCE?

Your deductible is the amount of money you will have to pay toward fixing or repairing your car before your insurance kicks in. Deductibles typically only apply to collision and comprehensive coverage. (There may be other cases where you could have a deductible – for example, uninsured motorist property damage – so ask your agent about all coverages with deductibles.)

Here’s an example scenario: Let’s say you’re involved in an accident and the repair estimate from the auto repair shop is $2,000. If you have a $500 deductible, you will be responsible for paying $500 and then your insurance will take care of the remaining $1,500.

Most people choose a deductible between $100 and $1,000, although they could possibly be as low as $0 or as high as $10,000, depending on the coverage and applicable state laws. Your agent can help  explain your options so you can pick an amount that’s comfortable for you.

DOES ERIE INSURANCE OFFER A DIMINISHING DEDUCTIBLE?

Yep, we have that! Read more about how the Erie Auto Plus* endorsement can help with a diminishing deductible (and a lot more) for about $30 more per year.

DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO PAY MY DEDUCTIBLE AFTER AN ACCIDENT?

If you’re deemed at fault for an accident, you typically pay the deductible under your own policy. If another person damages your vehicle and they are deemed at fault, their insurance would typically pay for your damage in its entirety. In that case, you wouldn’t be responsible for paying the deductible under your own policy.

HOW DOES YOUR DEDUCTIBLE AFFECT YOUR PREMIUM?

Generally, the higher your deductible, the lower your insurance premium (which is just a fancy word for price). The lower your deductible, the more you will typically pay for your insurance premium.

Related: What Determines the Price of My Auto Insurance?

Not sure what to pick? No worries – your ERIE agent is here to help.

Your agent can offer you multiple quotes with different deductibles. They can also explain how changing your deductible can affect your annual premium – or show you the cost savings between different options over multiple years. Ultimately, they want you to fully understand your options and feel confident about your decision.

Let’s take a look at the basics.

HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR DEDUCTIBLE

It’s all about your budget – and your comfort level with risk. Here are some things to consider about deductibles when you talk with your agent:

  1. Your budget: Ask yourself: What’s the amount of money I would be comfortable paying if I need to repair my vehicle? The lower your deductible, the less you will have to pay out of pocket if you have to file a claim, but your overall car insurance premium will be higher.It works the opposite way, as well.  If you have a high deductible, you will have a lower car insurance premium – but you’ll pay more out of pocket if you file a claim. This decision comes down to personal preference and what you can afford within your current budget.
  2. Drive time: Think about the amount of time you spend driving on a daily or weekly basis. If you’re in your car a lot – or driving in more accident-prone areas – you might be exposed to more risk than someone who drives less.
  3. Value of your vehicle: The more expensive the vehicle, the more it costs to insure. In that scenario, a high deductible could help you save on your premium. However, if you have a car loan, some lenders stipulate that your deductible should not exceed a certain amount. Check with your lender to be sure.

See also: Find Out the One Insurance Add-On Every New Car Needs

One final tip: Whatever deductible you choose, it’s smart to have that amount of cash on hand in your emergency fund. That way you’re financially prepared if you end up having to file a claim.

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Lending My Car

Am I Covered When I Lend My Car to Friends or Family?

If you own a car, chances are you’ve let a friend or family member borrow it at least once.

After all, there are plenty of reasons to hand over the keys. Maybe you needed a relative to pick up your kids from school. Or you’re helping someone get to work after their car broke down.

But did you know that in the event of an accident… it’s your auto insurance policy that typically would have to pay?

“By far, the number one misconception about loaning out your vehicle is that if you let your neighbor borrow your car, an accident should go on his insurance because he was the one driving,” said Dave Freeman, vice president and regional underwriting officer at Erie Insurance. “But in private passenger auto insurance, the coverage typically follows the vehicle, not the driver.”

Let’s break it down.

DOES MY CAR INSURANCE COVER OTHER DRIVERS?

If you’re an ERIE customer, insured drivers include:

  • Resident relatives: Most ERIE personal auto policies provide coverage to the named insured, their spouse or domestic partner and any other resident relatives. So if someone is a member of your family and lives in your home, they’re automatically an insured under your policy unless excluded.
  • Domestic partners: If someone lives with you but isn’t a relative, they are not named insureds under your policy. However, if you’re living with a domestic partner, they can be added to your policy as a named insured but only if your relationship is the long-term, committed type – you share domestic responsibilities and have joint financial obligations. All you have to do is call your agent and let them know. They’ll send out a short driver questionnaire and check your partner’s driving record to determine eligibility.Related: What Insurance Do You Need When You Move in Together?
  • Someone with permissive use: If you loaned out your car to a friend or neighbor, your ERIE policy generally will cover them – as long as you gave your permission. If they are a regular and repeated user of the car, they should also have coverage. The only exception is if a driver has been specifically excluded on your policy.

Finally: If someone else is regularly driving your car, it’s important to let your agent know.

Chances are, anyone you let borrow your car will fall into one of these three categories. But just because someone is covered doesn’t mean loaning your car is risk-free.

LOANING YOUR CAR: CONSIDER THE PROS AND CONS

Here’s the good news: If the driver falls into one of the three categories above, and the loss is covered under the terms of your policy, your insurance can help pay for the damage – even if you weren’t the one driving.

But here’s the tricky part: Depending on the situation – and the specifics of your policy – you might get stuck paying a surcharge on your auto insurance premium for an at-fault accident, even if you weren’t the one driving at the time. (Every policy is different, so ask your ERIE agent if this applies to you.)

Related: What Determines the Price of My Auto Insurance?

According to Freeman, most people don’t think about these ‘what if’ scenarios before lending their car.

“When you loan someone your car, you’re putting your name out there as a responsible party,” he explains. “You’ll be protected within the limits of your auto policy, but there’s always a chance of something happening that exceeds them.”

For instance, if your neighbor runs a stop sign and causes significant injuries and property damage, you could be responsible for paying any amounts owed above the limits on your policy. That means you could be sued for your neighbor’s negligent actions because they were using your vehicle. Liability in these situations varies by state, so check with your ERIE agent if you have specific questions.

And then, there’s the question of what actually constitutes “permissive use.” For example, maybe your daughter goes off to college and lets her friend borrow a car that’s in your name – but you, as the named insured, didn’t give permission. Is her accident covered? The answer could vary based on case law in each state.

Related: Whose Insurance Pays When My Friend Crashes My Car?

If you do have to file a claim, rest easy. Your ERIE agent can help you understand the ins and outs of your policy, and our award-winning claims service gives you prompt and personal attention to get back to normal.

“At ERIE we look for a reason to pay a claim, not a reason to turn one down,” said Freeman. “We want to find a way to pay your claim if the coverage is available. After all, that’s why you bought a policy.”

So here’s the moral of the story: Always make sure you understand your liability before loaning out a vehicle.

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